Commandant Leonard

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Where: N Earl St, North City, Dublin, Ireland

Try to find the spot where the photographer was standing.

When: 04 July 1922

Try to find the date or year when this image was made.
I am surprised with the date attributed to this photo, how did an officer have time to sit for a photo when the Civil War had just started? Or was it taken on maneuvers?

With thanks in particular to derangedlemur, sharon.corbet, O Mac, Niall McAuley, and guliolopez, it is confirmed that this is Commandant Joe Leonard. A veteran of the Easter Rising, he was a key member of Collins' "Squad" during the War of Independence, and (as shown here) an officer in the pro-treaty National Army during the Civil War. Leonard was a Dublin-man, and O Mac proposes that this photo was taken in the capital. While it otherwise has the hallmarks of a studio shot, the partly blanked rubble in the background might suggest that it was taken during a lull at the end of the Battle of Dublin. It ended on 5 July 1922 - one day after the catalogue date we have for this image.....

Photographer: W. D. Hogan

Collection: Hogan Wilson Collection

Date: 4 July 1922

NLI Ref.: HOG231

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at


Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 3969
hoganwilsoncollection wdhogan nationallibraryofireland joeleonard josephleonard nationalarmy irishcivilwar thesquad ira commandant dublin chair cairogang battleofdublin officer uniform sambrownebelt irishfreestate freestatearmy

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    • 28/May/2018 09:29:38

    Not a huge amount on him:

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    • 28/May/2018 09:37:47

    I think this is his BMH Statement, which gives him a first name, Joe, and mentions that he was part of the Squad.

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    • 28/May/2018 09:52:32

    4 July 1922 was a Tuesday.

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    O Mac

    • 28/May/2018 10:27:36

    Leonard was on the "Ashtown Ambush" when the IRA failed to assassinate Lord French. He seems to have had a wry sense of humour by his BMH account. "Lord Lieutenant Ffrench 19th December, 1919. Ashtown. Lord Ffrench was a gallant gentleman and he conducted his British affairs in Ireland to the very best of his ability but he fell very short of our idea as to how we could run our own country ourselves, consequently it was thought best to remove him from office by gunfire....!"

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    Niall McAuley

    • 28/May/2018 10:53:09

    I see one source saying this is him aged 18 in the 1911 census.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 28/May/2018 10:59:30

    A picture of his pistol. The card reads: 32 Automatic pistol, Webley and Scott. belonged to Cdt. Joe Leonard, former OC of The Squad. Presented to Military Archives by Mr. Timmy Jimmy Leonard, son of Cdt. Leonard.

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    • 28/May/2018 11:04:07

    His son and daughter took part in the The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections.

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    • 28/May/2018 11:51:14

    Handsome photo.

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    • 29/May/2018 10:06:27

    I remember doing some research on Joe Leonard before. As other's suggest, he was a key member of Collin's Squad - just behind Paddy Daly in the chain of command. He was involved in the Rising, the attempt on French, was with the Squad in Bloody Sunday, the daring raid on Mountjoy (to rescue Seán Mac Eoin), and later on the Pro-Treaty side of the Civil War. The most extensive single description I found on him was in Florence O'Donoghue's "IRA Jailbreaks" book (page 300):

    JOSEPH LEONARD. A Dublin man and an electrician by trade, Joe Leonard was twenty years of age when he fought in the 3rd Battalion, Dublin Brigade, Irish Volunteers, in the 1916 Rising, After the surrender he was deported and held in Wakefield detention barracks, and was released with the unsentenced prisoners in December 1916. In 1917 he was arrested for drilling and served a sentence in Mountjoy hail where he took part in the hunger strike which ended with the tragic death of Thomas Ashe who was killed by forcible feeding. He was one of the first members of "The Squad" which was formed in July 1919 and attached to the intelligence department. It consisted of about twelve men who were specially selected for difficult and dangerous jobs. These men were required to give their services whole-time to the IRA and were paid the wages they had been earning in their civilian jobs. From the formation of "The Squad" until the Truce, Joe Leonard took part in scores of engagements in Dublin, including the attack on Lord French, the Lord Lieutenant, and his escort in Ashtown, County Dublin, on 19 December 1919, and the attempt to rescue Seán MacEoin from Mountjoy jail, on 14 May 1921. The first barracks taken over from the British in 1922 was Beggars Bush, the headquarters of the Auxiliaries, and Joe Leonard was one of the Irish Army officers who marched in at the head of their men. He took the Treaty side and, in the Civil War, fought in the National Army with the rank of commandant. Later he was promoted to colonel. He died in 1961. - IRA Jailbreaks 1918-1921, F O'Donoghue (ed), 2010
    The label (and date) confirm that this photo was from his time as Commandant with the National Army. Early in the Civil War. (EDIT: That he would be "relaxing" early in the Civil War is unsurprising to me. I think by that time he'd seen/done it all. His BMH description of taking tea with the nuns (after the Mountjoy raid) is so matter of fact as to confirm him fully unflappable...)

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    O Mac

    • 29/May/2018 23:21:45

    Because of the chair we may assume its indoors and a studio shot. Whats left of the erased background looks like rubble/debris so it could have been taken at a barricade or at the ruins around Henry Street which was destroyed by Free State gunfire on the 4th July '22. The battle of Dublin ended next day, the 5th.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 30/May/2018 00:06:00

    Excellent stuff everyone. Thanks a lot! I have attempted to summarise the main points in an update to the description. I hope I did your collective work some justice :)

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    • 30/May/2018 06:16:02

    There’s a mention of him being wounded "in a rush on a position in the Courts" in [[email protected]]'s link. That would have been only a few days before this - 28/29 June from what I could find, so he may have been out of action still.

2 weeks ago a contributor from Castlecrag, Australia suggested this image location is 53.3498, -6.26031